BBC prepares to open online vault

According to the BBC (and who would know better?), the BBC is getting ready to launch its long-awaited on-demand multimedia archive. The BBC Archive will include full-length TV and radio programs, along with scripts and notes, all available for download from the BBC's Website. When it launches next month, the trial will include approximately 50 hours of content, open to the public, and about 1,000 hours of programming open to a select group of 20,000 Brit residents. Eventually the BBC hopes to offer up more than one million hours of programming.

As one big-wig at the BBC puts it, the trial will allow the media company to see what they can charge for, and what they should offer for free. He also says: "It will test what old programs people really want to see, from Man Alive to The Liver Birds, how they want to see them--full length or clip compilations--and when they want them, in lean-forward exploratory mode similar to web surfing, or as a scheduled experience more akin to TV viewing."

Also in the works is the BBC's iPlayer service, which will allow people to watch any programming that was broadcast in the last seven days (it's touted as a "catch-up" service). Initially iPlayer will be for Windows only, though versions for Macs, Media Centers, mobiles, and cable TV are also being developed.

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Cathy Lu

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